IMAU People!

Former Climate Physics Master student Sjoerd Groeskamp

Some might know me because I have attended your lectures. Others at IMAU are my friends. With some of you I collaborate and other might remember me as “the guy with the Mohawk”. But most of you won’t know me. So here is a little story.

Currently I hold a tenure track position at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research on Texel. I was also born and raised on Texel. Although the NIOZ was not my ambition when I started my BSc in Physics and Astronomy at Utrecht University, I’m extremely happy to have landed there.

I wanted to study astrophysics or meteorology when I started my BSc at the UU. But because of the awesome “Introduction to Oceanography” course taught by then IMAU's Lianke te Raa, I turned physical oceanographer. It was the beauty of the Sverdrup Balance that did it. In 2009 I obtained my MPOC (now Climate Physics) MSc degree. This was followed by some work at NIOZ and in 2011 I started a PhD in Hobart, the capital of Australia's island state Tasmania. I worked on a combination of ocean thermodynamics, mixing and circulation. For me, the PhD track was a period to discover whether science was my thing or not. It was. In 2015 I started a two-year postdoc at Columbia University in New York, followed in 2017 by a four-year postdoc at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. When my wife became pregnant, we decided to return to the Netherlands and celebrate that happening with our families. In parallel, I applied for a tenured-track (TT) position at NIOZ. Honestly, it was all or nothing. If I wouldn’t have gotten the TT position, I would’ve left academia. But after traveling the world and getting a child, we needed stability. So that’s what we chose, regardless of the outcome. You can imagine the excitement when I heard I got the position!

Comedian Patrick Nederkoorn and Sjoerd Groeskamp on stage.
Comedian Patrick Nederkoorn and Sjoerd Groeskamp on stage (photo: Rob Buiter).

This position gives me time to think about long term science goals. But I also know that to avoid the worst of climate change, we don’t have a long term. Therefore, I engage in climate science communication to hopefully have a more immediate impact. The science we do today is important, but it won’t immediately solve the climate crisis. For that we must quickly bend the emission curve. I believe that new ways to communicate the consequences of climate change, ways that resonate with people, will convince more people to join the fight against climate change1. I tried talking to journalists, writing opinion pieces, and coining the Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) to protect the Netherlands against rising seas. More recently, comedian Patrick Nederkoorn and I made a theater show about climate change, with which we will be touring the country2. Let me finish by challenging you: can you think out of the box to find ways to communicate climate science?

Sjoerd Groeskamp


  1. See e.g. this opinion piece in Het Parool (in Dutch).
  2. We have occasional shows this season, and we will have a proper tour next season. Our next gig is on 4 December 2022 in “De Meervaart” in Amsterdam, for details see